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Friday, June 14, 2024

Ukraine: Assessing Corruption and Democracy

In a recent interview with broadcaster Polsat, Paweł Kukiz, the leading election candidate for Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, made bold statements regarding Ukraine. Kukiz, while not an official member of PiS but rather the head of the right-wing Kukiz’15 group, expressed strong opinions about Ukraine’s political landscape and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky. In this article, we delve into Kukiz’s remarks and explore the complex dynamics between Poland and its eastern neighbor, Ukraine.

The Accusations

Paweł Kukiz did not mince words when he described Ukraine as “corrupt to the core” and its political system as “undemocratic.” He went further to suggest that President Zelensky was effectively a “hostage of oligarchs.” These are weighty allegations, and they demand a closer examination.

Ukraine’s Corruption Index

Corruption is a global concern, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a widely recognized benchmark for evaluating it. In the latest CPI rankings, Ukraine does indeed score lower than many European countries. However, it’s crucial to understand that corruption is a multifaceted issue influenced by historical, economic, and political factors. Ukraine has made efforts to combat corruption, including establishing institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and adopting reforms.

The State of Democracy

Kukiz’s assertion that “democracy is an unknown word in Ukraine” is a sweeping judgment. Ukraine has experienced significant political changes since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It has held multiple democratic elections, and President Zelensky himself came to power through a democratic process. While Ukraine faces challenges in strengthening its democratic institutions, it’s an oversimplification to dismiss the entire nation’s commitment to democracy.

The Role of Oligarchs

Oligarchs have indeed played a prominent role in Ukrainian politics. However, it’s essential to recognize that combating oligarchic influence is a complex and ongoing struggle. President Zelensky has taken steps to reduce the power of oligarchs, such as implementing media ownership restrictions and pushing for anti-oligarch legislation.

Poland’s Policy Towards Ukraine

Kukiz’s remarks also touch upon Poland’s approach to Ukraine, which he describes as “too childish.” Poland and Ukraine share a complex history, and their relationship is influenced by various factors, including security concerns, economic interests, and cultural ties.

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Tough Policy vs. Cooperation

Kukiz suggests that Poland should adopt a tougher policy towards Ukraine while assisting them within reasonable limits. This viewpoint underscores the challenges of balancing support for a neighbor in crisis with safeguarding one’s national interests. Poland has been a key ally for Ukraine, providing both political and humanitarian support since Russia’s invasion in 2014.

Trade Disputes

Recent tension between Poland and Ukraine, particularly regarding grain imports, has underscored the complexities of their relationship. Poland’s unilateral ban on Ukrainian grain imports was a contentious move, but both countries seem to be working toward a resolution.


Paweł Kukiz’s statements regarding Ukraine’s corruption, democracy, and Poland’s policies raise important questions. While his views may be polarizing, it is crucial to recognize the multifaceted nature of these issues. Ukraine is navigating a challenging path towards democratic governance and tackling corruption, and its relationship with Poland, like any international relationship, is influenced by a complex web of factors.

As Poland approaches its parliamentary elections, the dynamics between the two countries will continue to evolve. It is in the interest of both nations to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation to address these challenges effectively. Ukraine’s journey towards greater democracy and transparency is a process that deserves careful consideration and support from the international community.

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